Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio shows how Sammy Watkins will fit into the Chiefs’ offense.
Patrick Mahomes and Sammy Watkins have the Chiefs, Kansas City media, and fans abuzz. Andy Reid is using Watkins at all three receiver positions and considering how effective this offense is at creating big plays for its receivers, there’s reason for excitement among Chiefs fans.
I examined Watkins game and noted his obvious and not-so-obvious strengths. I also reviewed passing plays in the Chiefs’ offense and it didn’t take long to understand why Reid is moving Watkins around. The six videos below offer only a partial list of ways that Watkins will fit into this scheme, but each reveals significant themes worth remembering.
- Personnel groupings: When we examine the X’s and O’s of football, we don’t always focus on the impact that placing two excellent football players within the same area. The Chiefs earned a lot of separation because of the mismatches they created by placing Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the same side of the field. They also used the Hill and Kelce on one side to create a numbers game advantage on the other side for players like Albert Wilson. With Watkins in the mix, it creates an additional conundrum and another set of difficult player combinations for opposing defenses.
- Stacking receivers: When the personnel groupings feature two great players on one side, stacking them creates another complication for the opponent. A physical option like Kelce and create additional space for explosive runners like Hill and Watkins. Because Hill and Watkins are running threats, when they bubble to the sideline, it can create openings up the seam or over the middle of Kelce, who is a mismatch with the ball in his hands due to his size and quickness. Stacking can also set up Watkins for easy fade routes. The trio of Watkins, Hill, and Kelce will generate distraction and lead to mental mistakes in defensive secondaries.
- Pre-snap motion: The Chiefs will build on successful plays that trick its opponents by beginning a new play with that successful alignment and then adding motion late in the pre-play process to create a different look. This generates potential confusion for defenses trying to communicate its responsibilities and the personnel groupings add an additional layer of pressure. The motion also creates potential scenarios that linebackers, defensive ends, slot defenders, and safeties must take into account: fly sweeps to Watkins or Hill, shovel passes to Kelce or deep seam routes to Kareem Hunt.
- Clear-outs: Another effective aspect of personnel groupings featuring players who present mismatches in their own right is the ability to use them to create space for teammates. Whether it’s Watkins or Hill going deep to clear space for Kelce working from the opposite side of the field into a deep crease behind the receiver or Kelce and one of these receivers running mesh routes to open a huge swath of grass in the flat, the Chiefs have numerous combinations of plays to create easy gains thanks to personnel, alignment, and the clear-out effect.
Underscoring all four of these themes is the theme of flexibility. When defenses begin to get an idea of what the Chiefs are doing, Reid will do the same things but put Hill, Watkins, and Kelce in different positions. Instead of Watkins being the clear-out, he’ll be the target. Instead of Hill being the runner, Watkins will get the fly-sweep. Instead of Watkins running the fade, as the stacked receiver, he’ll be the front-man running the slant that’s’ wide-open due to the safety worried about Kelce running the fade.
Watkins will be at the center of it all.